Understanding Indian Poverty through Poverty Indicators

India – A Paradox of Wealth and Poverty

kids eating foodPoverty is the topmost problem Indian society has been facing since the colonial British left India in 1947 after draining its resources for 200 years. India is a unique country for several reasons: Indian society is perhaps the most diverse in the world in terms of culture, languages, castes, classes and regionalities – much more than the EU as a whole or any continent; it is set to become the most populous nation by 2028 when its population rising from the current 1.25 billion to about 1.45 billion; and its economy is among the top ten in the world yet it is the biggest center of poverty in the after – almost comparable with the sub-Saharan countries in the extent of depravity. The lack of homogeneity prevents single model solution for all regions and individual states.

Poverty is Multidimensional

In the past two decades, research in development and poverty has firmly established that poverty is a multidimensional phenomenon that can’t be adequately described or measured in monetary terms. So the boundary is widening from the economic perspective alone to include social, political and cultural dimensions also. It is also seen under the human rights’ lens – economic (the right to work and have an adequate income), social (access to health care and education), political (freedom of thought, expression and association) and cultural (the right to maintain one’s cultural identity and be involved in a community’s cultural life).

In fact, it is now widely recognized as a developmental issue without any cut-off poverty lines since the advent of the Human Development Reports in 1990. It started to probe global poverty through the human poverty index in 1997 and replaced it with a much more elaborate multidimensional poverty index (MPI) in 2010. But by no means the UNDP is the only body doing such exercise, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in association with an Irish group, Concern Worldwide and a German group, Welthungerhilfe, also has another popular composite measure –the Global Hunger Index (GHI).

The composite poverty measures such as these try to map the range of deprivations among the poor. Typically considered deprivations are in food, education, health, shelter, sanitation, safe drinking water etc.

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One Response to Understanding Indian Poverty through Poverty Indicators

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